The Effaced from History? group is happy to be co-hosting a workshop at Swansea University with the Research Group for Health, History and Culture on 11 April 2018. The All-Seeing Eye: Vision and Eyesight Across Time and Cultures will explore medical, social, and cultural meanings of the eye and vision in contemporary and historical perspective.
Vision has often provoked fascination within societies and cultures as the most revered sense. In Western Europe, the eye has been viewed scientifically as the most ‘exquisite’ organ, or spiritually as a ‘window to the soul’. These positions have had an influence on how the eye has been perceived, both as a vital organ and, by implication, one that needed to be protected. Whilst the eye could bring delight to its holder, and be symbolic in a variety of ways, it could also, when lost, incur significant impairment. The workshop will explore this vision impairment and correction, and the extent to which sight loss has been stigmatised. It will welcome papers that explore eyesight and its meanings across time and place, to encourage trans-historical and interdisciplinary discussion. Possible subjects include but are not restricted to:
- Concepts of the eye within scientific, medical, theological or cultural texts and images
- Vision in relation to the other senses
- Testing vision
- Experiences of sight loss, total and partial
- Restoring and regaining vision
- Eye loss: stigma and disfigurement
- Eye contact, staring and social interaction
- Adornments to the eye: cosmetics, masks, vision aids and prosthetics
- Visual and literary representations of the eye
- Challenges to ableist narratives relating to sight loss and visual impairment.
The workshop is convened by Professor David Turner (Swansea University) and PhD candidate Gemma Almond (Swansea University and the Science Museum, London), who invite proposals for twenty-minute papers. Proposals of no more than 200 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker should be sent to Gemma Almond. The closing date for submissions is 1st December 2017.
Further information about the workshop and project will be made available on their blog.
Readers with an interest in this area might like to read Gemma’s recent blog post for us: A ‘Spectacle’ of the Face: Eyewear in the Nineteenth Century.